Notes on the connections between Nicholas Roerich, Alexander Barchenko and Chintamani

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In his Moscow laboratory Barchenko was carrying out experiments on behalf of the Bolsheviks on mind control at a distance, with the aim of inculcating revolutionary fervour in the masses by the excitation of their brain cells. These experiments were highly innovative and included unusual devices using rotating magnets. The destruction of Barchenko’s work means that what we know about it today is extremely fragmentary, but Roerich’s connections with Barchenko may ironically cast some further tantalising light into Barchenko’s world. Barchenko and Roerich had been friends since before the Revolution, both having been members of an esoteric Rosicrucian group called the Martinists.
   In 1923 Nicholas Roerich and his wife Helena became the custodians of a talisman called the Stone, which was a piece of a large highly magnetic meteorite called Chintamani which was said to lie ‘in Shambhala’. The Roerichs believed their Stone, having also this magnetic property, had a capacity to receive, amplify and transmit psychic energy – in their case to help channel spiritual teachings and to receive communications from the spiritual Brotherhood to guide their endeavours. There is a photograph of the Stone in the archive of the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York. When this was revealed a few years ago, the material existence of the Stone could at last be confirmed. Unusually for a meteoritic fragment, it shows the talisman has a noticable axial symmetry, and seems to have been shaped or worked on to create a form resembling a tortoise carapace. As to who sent the Stone to the Roerichs, no substantial information has so far entered the public domain – certainly it would have been somebody extremely sympathetic to Roerich’s aims in Central Asia, and who knew about the Stone’s connection with Chintamani.
   The Roerichs received the Stone in Paris, while preparing for their travels to Central Asia, together with instructions from the spiritual Brotherhood regarding their mission and their aspirations for Shambhala which they wanted to realise there. Thus Roerich was told that he should return with the Stone to its ‘homeland’ in Central Asia, whereupon certain ‘new developments’ would take place, and that his mission would be protected. Nowadays more is known about Roerich’s ambitions for the ‘Shambhala project’ in Central Asia – a plan for the unification of the Buddhist and Mongol territories under a kind of synarchy where the Roerichs’ teachings would have a significant role. During the Central Asian Expedition of 1923-28 and subsequently, the Stone always remained in the Roerichs’ custody.
   There is however another story, spoken about a few years ago by some of Roerich’s followers in Moscow, that the Stone was given to Roerich to take to Moscow for Barchenko’s laboratory. Although it is significant that Roerich’s code-word for Moscow was ‘Martin’, and it is said that Roerich and Barchenko met in Moscow in 1926, there are various details of this story, most obviously that the Stone was exchanged there for another meteorite, that are inconsistent with what is known, suggesting that the facts must have been misconstrued in some way. Significantly, Barchenko had in 1923 received a Buddhist Kalachakra initiation from the high lama Agvan Dorjiev, who was Roerich’s mentor on the subject of Shambhala at the time of the construction of the Buddhist Temple in St Petersburg, between 1909-13. Dorjiev, a Buriat Mongol, knew about the great meteorite Chintamani, from which Roerich’s talisman derived. Dorjiev himself is well known for having earlier put forward a plan for the creation of a ‘great Buddhist confederacy’ in Central Asia. It seems possible, therefore, that what actually took place was that it was Barchenko who sent the Stone to Roerich, rather than Roerich who took it to Barchenko, and that quite possibly he did so on behalf of Dorjiev or with his endorsement. Some of Roerich’s followers in Russia say that Dorjiev had installed another piece of the Chintamani stone in the Buddhist Temple during its construction.
   There is a further important piece of evidence which may indicate Barchenko as the sender of the Stone to the Roerichs. When it was received it was contained in an antique casket and was wrapped in a cloth embroidered with designs and symbols suggesting this was of Rosicrucian origin. Thus whoever sent the Stone also sent the cloth, and Barchenko was the only close co-worker of Roerich who shared this Rosicrucian connection.
   Some years ago, in 1991, following evidence in the Roerichs’ published books, I put forward a suggestion for the identity of the main Chintamani meteorite, but as I know of no other similar investigation, the question remains. It seems noteworthy in corroboration, nevertheless, that another Buriat Mongol, Dr Tsyben Zhamtsarano, who was both involved in the Shambhala idea and a colleague of Roerich, had a field knowledge of  the meteorite I identified. However, notwithstanding whether the identity of the meteorite is confirmed, my further research about this stone has revealed something astonishing – one of the most blatant scientific deceptions of the twentieth century – but that is another story.
   Where the Roerichs’ Stone is now located is probably only known to one or two of the custodians of the Roerichs’ work in Russia.
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This text was previously published on Facebook as a post comment on my wall on February 25, 2011, and as a Note on January 2, 2012.
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